The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Laujar de Andarax

The nice lady in the Tourist Office in Almeria, although unable to furnish us with any information as to walking routes in the area, did recommend to us two good walking locations and having spent last night only about 20km away from one of them, that’s to where we headed this morning. I had already downloaded from t’internet a GPX file for one walk in that area, but we arrived to find a sign detailing various different options. Instead of the 16km circuit for which I already had information, we opted for the 7.6km one, with the thought that we could always tack the 4.2km one onto the end of it, if we so fancied.

With the valley in which we parked being steep sided and running north-south, it can’t have seen the sun since the middle of yesterday afternoon and thus, even though we’ve not seen a hint of a cloud for 2 days, I set out wearing three layers and wishing I’d dug out some gloves. My hands were freezing by the time we finally found some sunshine (whereupon we promptly overheated and had to strip down to t-shirts).

What struck me as we made our way along the valley, and then started to climb up its side, was that after a couple of weeks of being surrounded by barren desert, we were suddenly somewhere green. Indeed, the river Andarax, which runs down this valley, is more than just a trickle, and the snow-topped mountain we had spied on our drive in suggested that these mountains see more precipitation than the surrounding plains (disproving the famous saying about the rain in Spain?).

The first half of the walk was uphill on tracks. In fact, technically, I think they are classified as roads, but to me they’re tracks. Then we were onto a lovely path, which took us through pine woods, sometimes descending infeasibly steep slopes via switchbacks and sometimes clinging to the side of the valley.

A worrying bit of uphill appeared before us at the point that we thought we were supposed to be making our final descent, but we were just being a bit impatient. A couple of minutes later, after another excellent viewpoint, our descent did start.

We’d already walked over 8km by that point (and still had a way to go), contrary to the 7.6km declared by the signpost at the beginning. We met another detailed information sign as we joined a dirt track back in the valley, which gave the distance as 9.6km. I measured it as almost exactly 10km.

Being such a pleasing walk we would happily have stayed another day to go and tackle the longer route tomorrow, but the empty state of Colin’s fridge and pantry dictated otherwise. We needed to go and find a proper supermarket.

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